Another great story from Jataka Tales. At one time, there were two traders who were great friends. One of them lived in a small village, while the other one lived in a big town nearby.
One day, the village trader took his plow to the town and left it with his friend to get it mended. The town trader promised to have the plow repaired and send it back to his friend in the village. Instead of getting the plow repaired, the cunning town trader sold it and kept the money.
When the trader from the village did not get his plow back for a long time, he decided to go to the town again. The village trader met the town trader and asked him about the plow. The town trader slyly replied, “My friend, I am sorry. The mice have eaten your plow.”
It was the strangest reply that the village trader had ever heard! How can an iron plow could be eaten by mice, he wondered, but kept quiet. The village trader was very clever. He thought of a plan and said, “Things happen, my friend! Let us not worry over what has happened. It is so hot in the town. I would like to go for a swim in the nearby pond. Please send your son also with me to take care of my clothes while I bathe in the water.” The town trader heaved a sigh of relief as the village trader did not make any issue about his plow and gladly sent his son with him.
The village trader took the town trader’s son with him and hid him in a cave. Hours later, he returned alone to his friend with a long face. The town trader anxiously asked, “Where is my son? You took him along. Why didn’t you bring him back?”
“Yes, I took him with me and left him on the bank of that river while I went down into the water,” said the villager. “While I was swimming, a big bird came, grabbed your son in its claws and flew high in the air. Before I could do anything, the bird vanished with your son.” he said.
“You are lying!” yelled the town trader. “It is just impossible. No bird could pick up a child and fly away like that! I will take you to the court.”
The village trader calmly said, “As you please.” They both went to the court.
The town trader pleaded to the judge, “Your Honour! This fellow took my son with him to the river in the afternoon. Now he has come back alone and is telling me that a bird took away my son in its claws.”
“What have you to say?” the judge asked the village trader.
“Sir, it is true! I did tell this man that a bird has taken away his son,” said the village trader.
“What you say is just impossible! No bird is strong enough to carry away a small boy in its claws.” said the judge.
The village trader said, “I beg your pardon, but if the mice can eat an iron plow, the birds can also fly away with small children.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked the judge.
“Some time back, I had left my plow with this man. When I came to get it back, he told me that the mice had eaten it. I believed him and now he must also believe me. A bird has taken away his boy!”
The judge understood the whole matter and ordered the town trader, “You have cheated your friend! You must now give him a new plow and he shall return your son to you.”
This is how the witty village trader taught a lesson to the greedy town trader.
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